The experience of workers overseas
|“Burmese?” somebody asked. I tilted my head and saw a woman standing before me. Next thing, she took the empty seat beside mine. She had a melancholy expression with undying desire to discharge something on her mind.
She told me everything about how she has been lied to work in Dubai. Worked as a nurse in Burma, she went to Dubai through a job agency with the hope of earning more money. They waited two days for the job agency to come and fetch them at the airport. Later that day, they were transported to their assigned jobs. The car was small and crowded with lots of workers from Ethiopia. Only then, she realized things were not happening according to what she was told.
She was dropped off at a big mansion, four story high. And greeted by the head maid from Philippines. There were four maids working for the family. She was asked to put on the in-house maid clothes. Afterward, all her clothes, passport, money and luggage were taken away from her. There were four small children and her job was to look after them according to the contract. Unfortunately, the head maid abused her by ordering her to work just like three others, cleaning the floors, washing the clothes and cooking. They were not well fed either. Being locked in the house everyday without seeing light of the day, she didn’t have a clue about the address of the place she worked. She knew that she’s in a big mansion and that’s all she knew.
She told me, there were lots of female workers who chose to lived together with taxi drivers in Dubai. In that way, they are able to support themselves better. She considered this route too though she has a husband back home in Burma. She said she couldn’t do that. In the end, she chose to come back home. The journey back home was not easy. She was entirely out of contact with her family back home. and was taken to the agent’s office or rather a prison as she called it.
There were many girls and women like her trapped in the same situation. She stayed there for another two days. There were lots of double-decker beds and everyday, workers wait for someone to come and take them away for work. She was given a chance to call home and arranged money to be paid to the agent in Burma for air ticket for the return journey.
The agent has taken her passport and she was threatened to sign on the papers and only then, they would give her the ticket. She refused to sign at first because she didn’t breach the contract. She was meant to work as a babysitter not as a maid. There’s no other way. She doesn’t speak the language nor does she has money and passport in her hands to buy the ticket.
Dark circles were all around her eyes. She told me, she hasn’t spoken to anyone else and has been crying since. I listened to her without judgement. But thinking back, she has her own faults as well. How can she not know where she’s going to work? At least she needs to know the address before she even leaves the country. It’s only because you are careless, people take advantage of you. But, most poor people in the country are cut off from resources. They don’t know internet or email. Google maps is too far to mention about.
Last thing, she told me was, her family didn’t know that she’s on her way back home.